1. Documentation /
  2. WooCommerce Payments Start Up Guide /
  3. Subscriptions with WooCommerce Payments /
  4. Comparing subscription options

Comparing subscription options

If you’re using WooCommerce Payments, you have two options to sell subscription products:

  • The subscriptions functionality built into WooCommerce Payments, or…
  • The WooCommerce Subscriptions extension mentioned above.

This document explains the differences between the two options, including features and pricing, to help you choose the best option for your site.

Overview ↑ Back to top

WooCommerce Payments’ built-in subscriptions functionality provides the features needed to sell subscription products and services in your store. This functionality is bundled with WooCommerce Payments, so there is no need to install other extensions. Note that there is an additional fee that is added to each subscription-related transaction.

The WooCommerce Subscriptions extension provides access to advanced features, including support for dozens of different payment gateways. Access to these features requires an annual subscription via WooCommerce.com and one or more separate plugins to be installed and active on your site. After that upfront cost, only the payment gateway fees are charged on subscription-related payments. There are no additional usage fees added by WooCommerce Subscriptions.

Which solution is right for me? ↑ Back to top

Currently, the WooCommerce Payments subscriptions functionality is available for U.S. accounts and card payments only. If you are outside the U.S., or want to take payments for subscription products via non-card methods, you will need to use the regular Subscriptions extension.

Aside from that, the most suitable subscription solution for your business will depend on the following factors:

  • Payment methods: If you want to offer your customers the option to subscribe using their PayPal wallet or various other payment methods, the WooCommerce Subscriptions extension is required. Only credit and debit cards can be used to pay for subscriptions with WooCommerce Payments.
  • Required features: WooCommerce Payments provides the essential subscription functionality for a business with a recurring revenue model. WooCommerce Subscriptions provides additional advanced features that may be required for different subscription models, such as support for subscribers upgrading their subscription with a prorated fee or signing up without a payment method.
  • Expected revenue: If your business expects to process more than $19,900 of subscription-related payments in the next 12 months, the upfront cost of the WooCommerce Subscriptions extension will be more economical than using the WooCommerce Payments subscriptions functions (due to the subscription-related transaction fees).

In general, the subscriptions functionality built into WooCommerce Payments is best suited to stores testing out a new recurring revenue model. The WooCommerce Subscriptions extension is best suited to larger stores or businesses with a subscription model at their core, such as a membership website.

Features ↑ Back to top

Feature WooCommerce Payments Functionality WooCommerce Subscriptions extension
Country AvailabilityU.S. onlySupported countries
Products
  — Simple subscription products
  — Variable subscription products
  — Free trials
  — Sign-up fees
  — Flexible payment schedules
  — Limit subscriptions
  — One-time shipping
  — Free subscriptions
Coupons
  — Recurring Product Discount
  — Sign-Up Fee Discount
  — Limited Payment Coupons
Renewal
  — Automatic renewal
  — Manual renewal and toggle
  — Early renewal
Failed Recurring Payment Retry
  — Auto-retry failed payments
  — Customizable retry system
Essential Features
  — Subscriptions dashboard
  — Edit subscription screen Limited1
  — Subscription emails
  — Reports
Advanced Features
  — Resubscribe
  — Synchronization
  — Switching
Advanced Configuration
  — Mixed checkout
  — Customer suspension limits
  — Downloadable content drip
  — $0 initial checkout
  — Customizable sign-up buttons
  — Role setting
Payment Options
  — Credit and debit cards2
  — Other payment gateways
Developer tools
  — REST API

1 Line item, amount, and date changes are unavailable.
2 Via WooCommerce Payments only.

Billing engine ↑ Back to top

With WooCommerce Subscriptions, automatic recurring payments are initiated on your site, and then processed by the payment gateway. This turns your WordPress site into a recurring billing engine that is completely within your control. This is referred to as an “on-site” billing engine.

An alternative approach is to have recurring payments initiated by the payment gateway itself. After the payment is initiated, the payment gateway then notifies WooCommerce about the payment so it can record the transaction in an order. WooCommerce can also take other necessary actions, like emailing the subscriber a notification of the order. This is referred to as an “off-site” billing engine, since in this case it is the payment gateway that manages when to charge the subscriber, not the site itself.

The built-in subscriptions functionality in WooCommerce Payments uses an off-site billing engine. This makes it possible to provide a greater level of reliability when collecting recurring revenue, because the billing system is managed by the team at WooCommerce and our payments partner.

NOTE: If you’re using the WooCommerce Subscriptions extension with WooCommerce Payments available as a payment method, automatic recurring payments for subscriptions purchased with the Subscriptions extension active will use the on-site billing engine.

Extension compatibility ↑ Back to top

There are many extensions in our Marketplace that modify the behavior of the Subscriptions extension. Some of those are also compatible with the subscriptions functionality built into WooCommerce Payments.

Costs ↑ Back to top

A key difference between using the WooCommerce Payments built-in subscriptions functionality and the WooCommerce Subscriptions extension is the pricing model.

The WooCommerce Subscriptions extension is available by paying an annual subscription fee on WooCommerce.com. After that, only the payment gateway fees are charged on subscription-related payments. There are no usage fees added by WooCommerce Subscriptions itself.

The WooCommerce Payments built-in subscriptions functionality is available without an annual fee. Instead, you pay for usage through an additional fee on each subscription-related transaction.

If your business expects to process more than $19,900 of subscription-related payments in the next 12 months, the upfront cost of the WooCommerce Subscriptions extension will be more economical than using the WooCommerce Payments subscriptions functionality.

Changing subscription options ↑ Back to top

If you are already using one subscription offering and want to migrate to the other option, please refer to our guides here:

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